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Flyers vs. Penguins: Analysis of shot locations in Games 1-3

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Sean Couturier (L) shoots from in close and scores on Marc-Andre Fleury (R). Not shown: the Penguin defense.
Sean Couturier (L) shoots from in close and scores on Marc-Andre Fleury (R). Not shown: the Penguin defense.

The statistical analysis community tends to focus heavily on shot differential, largely ignoring shot location. This is primarily because over the course of a season, we don't see large differences between teams on shot location. A bad defense will allow more shots from in close, but they'll also allow more shots from the outside -- the overall distribution ends up about the same, just with more shots.

But that's definitely not true over short periods of time. Let's take a look at where each team's shots have come from in this short series.

First, here's an overall map of the shots taken by each team:

Phi-pit_shots_medium

The teams have had almost identical numbers of shots (91 for Philadelphia, 90 for Pittsburgh), but the Flyers have had a lot more from right in front of the goal. From the hashmarks in, the Flyers have had 34 shots and Pittsburgh has had 19.

Special teams have gone heavily in the Flyers' favor, but the tendency to get a lot more shots from right in front of the net is true even at even strength, where the inside-the-hashmarks shot differential is 22 to 12:

Phi-pit_shots_es_medium

But before we decide the Pittsburgh defense is all to blame and throw a pity party for Marc-Andre Fleury, let's take a look at the shots that came within two seconds of the previous shot -- i.e. the rebounds:

Phi-pit_shots_rebounds_medium

Yes, the Pittsburgh defense has been to blame in making Fleury look worse than he is. But he's also made them look worse than they are. I guess the moral of the story is that when you've given up 20 goals in three games, nobody is blameless.